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A Conversation with Robert Hooks

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Distinguished actor Robert Hooks was born Bobby Dean Hooks on April 18, 1937, in Washington, D.C. He is the youngest of five children. Hooks attended Stevens Elementary School. He performed in his first play, The Pirates of Penzance, at the age of nine and after his family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he soon joined the drama club and began acting in plays by such authors as William Shakespeare and Samuel Beckett.  Robert moved to New York City in 1959 to become an actor. That year, he debuted as Bobby Dean Hooks in a touring production of Raisin in the Sun. He made his Broadway debut in 1960 in Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright, and became well known for his role as Clay in LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka's Dutchman in 1964. 

His television career began in 1963 with the role of a police detective on the television series East Side/West Side. Hooks’ television career spans over forty years. Some of his other television series credits include The White Shadow, Trapper John M.D., WKRP in Cincinnati, Sister Sister, M.A.N.T.I.S., The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Family Matters, A Different World, Clueless, Diagnosis Murder, and Seinfeld.  A genuine trailblazer for African Americans in this end of the entertainment business and a tremendous resource for information and encouragement.

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